Data sharing project to protect vulnerable children set to benefit from nearly £1m investment
15 September 2021
A successful Bristol City Council project using data and analytics to understand risk and vulnerability of children and families across the city is to be expanded across Avon and Somerset, with evaluation support from NIHR ARC West. Nearly £1m of Government funding has been allocated over the next 18 months.
This funding will support all local authorities in the police area to work together to share information and develop local approaches. The aim is to identify those families who need support and to help prevent them going into crisis and needing to access statutory services.
This early intervention work will be tested and evaluated using two schools, one in Bristol and one in Somerset. The evaluation will test whether improved information sharing enables schools to understand the lives and challenges of their pupils, and whether that leads to earlier identification of need. This in turn could lead to faster and improved responses from the organisations that support pupils and their families, including statutory agencies.
The funding is part of the Government’s £7.9 million Data Accelerator Fund, which will see 10 councils work more closely with police forces, local NHS services and schools to share data to ensure children and families receive the right help at the right time.
By sharing information across schools, health, housing, police and social care, frontline workers can get a full picture of an individual family’s needs and the often interconnected challenges they face, such as mental health issues, employment, and substance misuse.
Gary Davies, Head of Early Intervention & Safer Communities at Bristol City Council said:
“The importance of this work cannot be overstated. If we can demonstrate that new ways of sharing information across agencies directly with schools leads to better outcomes for children then it could have far reaching consequences for future ways of working across the public sector.”
Professor John Macleod, Director of NIHR ARC West said:
“This is a potentially transformational project which could make a significant and positive impact on many vulnerable children’s lives. I am pleased that ARC West can support this work and look forward to getting started with our partners across Avon and Somerset.”